The Election Commission (EC) is set to announce the dates for the assembly polls for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh on Friday. The poll body is expected to hold a press briefing at 3 pm at New Delhi's Vigyan Bhawan. With the declaration, the model code of conduct will be adopted in both states.
The Commission's officials recently visited both states to review the election preparedness, as per news reports. While Gujarat Assembly's term will end on February 18, 2023, Himachal Pradesh’s term will end on January 8. Both states are currently ruled by Bharatiya Janta Party.
The Gujarat legislative assembly has 182 seats with 92 being the majority mark, while that in the 68-seat Himachal Pradesh legislative assembly is 35. In the 2017 election, the BJP won 99 of 182 seats and secured an absolute majority. In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP won 44 seats and Congress got 21 seats.
Focus on Gujarat
Gujarat is BJP’s stronghold. In the last few assembly elections, the BJP has strongly dominated the vote share. In 2017, it won 49.05 per cent vote share, whereas Congress got 41.44 per cent.
Campaigning is in full swing in Gujarat with prominent political leaders like Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, and Rahul Gandhi visiting the state. While BJP is trying to retain its power, Congress is trying to make a comeback after remaining out of power for 27 years.
For Aam Aadmi Party, it will be another chance to establish itself as a national party after its roaring success in Punjab. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has already announced a slew of sops like 300 units of free electricity per month, free education in government schools, an unemployment dole, Rs 1,000 allowance to women, and a monthly stipend for lawyers.
On the other hand, Modi has inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of projects worth over Rs 27,000 crore in different parts of the state like Surat, Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad, and Ambaji. He also inaugurated metro train services for Ahmedabad and also flagged off India's third Vande Bharat Express from Gandhinagar to Mumbai.
The Congress, which is aware that Other Backward Classes (OBCs) constitute more than 50 per cent of the population, has proposed welfare measures specifically for these communities.
Focus on Himachal Pradesh
While BJP is looking for a seventh straight victory in Gujarat, in Himachal Pradesh, people have alternatively voted for Congress and BJP since 1993. It has been witnessing a see-saw battle between Congress and the BJP.
If we go by the numbers, the last six assembly elections pattern shows that Congress has been losing its grip on the state. In 2017, BJP won 48.79 per cent vote share, whereas Congress won 41.46 per cent.
The Himachal Assembly had the highest tally of 52 Congress legislative members in 1993. In contrast, its tally was the lowest at 21 during the last assembly election, which happened in 2017.
BJP’s, on the other hand, the best performance was in 2017, when it secured its largest-ever tally of 44. Its lowest tally was six in 1993. The vote percentage of Congress has ranged from 39 per cent (in 2007) to 49 per cent (1993) whereas the vote share of the BJP has ranged from 35 per cent (2003) to 49 per cent (2017).
This time, while BJP is projecting good governance and delivery of its poll promises, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are trying to offer better governance, and freebies to win the polls. Like, AAP and Congress have made a pre-poll promise of a monthly allowance of Rs 1000 and Rs 1,500 respectively, to all eligible women in the age group of 18 to 60 years.
Besides, both have offered free electricity, free mobile clinics, and English-medium schools in each constituency.
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